Working at Two Onion Farm
In 2015 we will raise 4 acres of vegetables (including five hoophouses) and we will also tend about 500 young apple trees. Our farm is moderately mechanized: we use a tractor for tilling the soil, mowing, and hauling heavy stuff, but we weed, plant, and harvest by hand. We're expecting to hire about seven employees in 2015. We're a small farm, and we work together with our employees. Everyone shares in the big jobs of weeding, planting, harvesting, and packing produce. Some employees also specialize in particular areas of the farm, such as tractor operation or caring for seedlings in the greenhouse.
We typically work 7.5 hours per day, Monday to Friday. A few employees are scheduled to start earlier or end later on certain days to help us prepare for, or finish up, the day's work. One or two employees may work on Saturday mornings during the summer to help with time-critical harvesting. For most of the year, we follow a weekly schedule of harvests and deliveries. On Mondays and Thursdays the entire crew typically works all day harvesting and washing produce. That produce is stored overnight in our coolers, and on Tuesday and Friday mornings, we pack it into individual boxes for our CSA members. On Tuesday and Friday afternoons, one employee delivers the boxes in our farm's delivery van while the rest of the crew stays behind to do the work of growing our crops: sowing seeds, transplanting seedlings, weeding, training plants, and so on. We also use Wednesdays for that same general fieldwork.
Why work for us?
We're serious about what we do. We have fun while we work; we laugh, tell stories, talk to our kids, and look at the bugs and the birds. But we mainly work while we work. We delight in work: the work that feeds people, the work done by the hands we know, the work that keeps the land healthy and beautiful. We love the sight of a well-weeded row, a neatly trained cucumber vine, a crate of newly harvested red peppers, or soil rolling off the shanks of a chisel plow. If you like a job well done, you'll be happy and valued here.
We respect people. We deeply appreciate what others do on our farm. Many of our most joyful and vivid memories are of the work we did alongside employees. We are considerate and respectful of personal time and needs. We devote much of our time and thought to training workers, answering their questions, and making sure they understand their work.
We're a farm that produces. While all farms are subject to the vagaries of unpredictable weather and mechanical breakdowns, we have put years of experience, thought, and planning into shaping methods that work. We organize our time and our tools. You'll work hard here, but your work won't be wasted. If you want to learn how to farm vegetables yourself, you'll see an example of a system that works.
We've worked with many employees. Most have been productive, satisfied workers who raised fantastic food for people in our community. But we've had a few employees who were not cut out for doing this kind of work with us. We've listed here the qualities which distinguish successful from unsuccessful workers. These are the standards by which we judge applicants. We're laying them out not to be harsh, but to be clear. You should read and understand these standards before you apply or interview here.
- You must be able to do repetitive physical work outdoors in hot, cold, and rainy weather. Your knees and back must withstand bending, kneeling, stooping, and sitting on the ground for hours at a time.
- You must work carefully and be detail-oriented. We are picky and fastidious. Our quality standards are exacting.
- At the same time, you must be fast. Not sloppy, rushed, or careless, but quick and efficient. Time is money; and money pays you, pays us, and keeps the farm afloat.
- You must communicate and cooperate with your co-workers. There are few things more frustrating than work which was left undone, was done poorly, or took too long because workers did not talk to each other or work together.
- In the end, we are flexible and understanding. We recognize and appreciate human differences, and we've worked happily and long beside employees who've had some shortcomings in the areas above but who were trying their honest best. But without exceptions, you must have a good attitude. We have no tolerance for people who don't respect their work and their co-workers. If you're lazy or rude, then you won't work here.
- You do not need experience. Many great workers have come here with no experience growing vegetables. However, workers with experience are likely to start with higher pay and more responsibilities.
We do not offer on-farm housing for employees. There is rental housing available in Platteville and Mineral Point (each about 15 minutes away). The nearest cities are Dubuque IA (35 minutes) and Madison WI (1 hour). If you're coming to work here from outside the area, we're happy to advise you on finding a place to live.
We hire for two positions. We consider part time and full time applicants for both positions. Click on one of the links below to read a job description and instructions for applying.
Full season worker. Start in March or April and work through October or November. Experienced or skilled full season workers may assume responsibility for specific aspects of the farm, such as tractor operation or caring for seedlings. Application deadline: January 15 (or later, if positions are not filled).
Summer season worker. Work from late May to late August. Ideal for high school and college students. Application deadline: March 1 (or later, if positions are not filled).